Power Device Interface Characterization with Low-Cost Thermal System Identification

Timothy A. Polom, Robert D. Lorenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper develops a technique, requiring no dedicated temperature sensing calibration step, to rapidly characterize transient heat transfer in packaged, power semiconductor components. It is presented as an alternative to traditional step response characterization methods by exploiting the phase delay metric native to frequency response function (FRF) analysis in the field of system identification. The paper presents principles of power device physics and transient waveform analysis to identify design space in which FRF data extracted from experiments are robust. Introduced are electronic circuitry, providing the needed, periodic heat actuation, and a measurement strategy leveraging direct processing of a temperature sensitive electrical parameter. The developed method is applied to make a key measurement confirming the high-frequency-only thermal FRF sensitivity to component die-attach condition. The measurement is shown to align with an output from a partial differential thermal model embedding a single, corrective scaling factor. Overall, the paper highlights the emergent opportunity to measure a packaged power device’s transient thermal impedance with standard lab equipment and the ongoing opportunity to realize converter degradation self-sensing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9467348
Pages (from-to)1-1
Number of pages1
JournalIEEE Journal of Emerging and Selected Topics in Power Electronics
Issue number99
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • characterization
  • electrothermal
  • frequency response
  • heat transfer
  • power semiconductor devices
  • packaging
  • thermal interface
  • sensitivity analysis
  • system identification


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